Mexico ‘s Kenia Enriquez Hands Venezuela’s Norleidys Graterol Her First Defeat
By David A. Avila
Facing an undefeated knockout puncher Kenia Enriquez stuck to her game plan and picked apart Norleidys Graterol and won every round to maintain the WBC interim light flyweight title on Saturday.
It was Enriquez’s first fight in nearly a year.
Tijuana’s Enriquez (21-1, 9 KOs) used her experience to hand Venezuela’s Graterol (7-1, 7 KOs or 12-1, 7 KOs depending on whose record-keeping) her first loss as a professional. It took place in Tijuana. The female title fight was televised live by ESPN3.
Despite the long layoff Enriquez kept the dangerous Graterol with combinations and slipping under the return fire from the hard-hitting Venezuelan. Every time they exchanged Tijuana’s young fighter showed the even younger 19-year-old fighter the sport of prizefighting has more to it than swinging hard.
Graterol was hitting air in the first two rounds.
The Venezuelan changed tactics in the third round and began the action with her jab. She connected early with the jab then transitioned to one-two combinations that paused the Mexican fighter to re-evaluate her own counters. Enriquez then began using her own jabs and when Graterol tried another jab she was countered by a stiff right then a four-punch combination from Enriquez. It was a pivotal round won by Enriquez.
“My plan was taking her to more rounds because she was always used to knocking opponents out early,” said Enriquez, 24, who last fought in November 2017.
Enriquez began mounting a dominating attack and in the fifth round a stiff left jab dropped Graterol who walked into the punch. However, the referee missed the call and ruled it a slip though no legs tangled and the punch clearly dropped the Venezuelan. Two judges however would later correctly give Enriquez a 10-8 round on the scorecards. Graterol tried fighting southpaw which gave her some time to recover as Enriquez evaluated the situation.
From the sixth round to eighth round Enriquez poured on the attack with heavy firepower. Graterol was in full retreat and looking to survive. Although several times she was hit with devastating blows she showed a good chin.
At the end of the eighth her corner must have told her to go-for-broke because Graterol entered the ninth round ready to kill or be killed.
“She could hit hard, more than I thought, I respected her but I executed my plan,” said Enriquez.
Graterol opened up with one-two combinations that forced Enriquez back for a bit. But the Tijuana fighter rebooted and returned with even more combinations including some riveting uppercuts that snapped the Venezuelan’s head back. Both traded combinations with Enriquez able to connect more often.
After 10 rounds one judge saw it 100-90 and two others 100-89 all for Enriquez. She retains the WBC interim light flyweight world title and perhaps finally gets her shot at the actual world title. She deserves it.
Enriquez finally entered the boxing ring after the year 2018 is almost over. But ring rust was not apparent.
“I felt again where I belong,” said Tijuana’s Enriquez.
Enriquez was back in the boxing ring and very content.
“It was a great fight. I enjoyed every round in my house with my people and with my great team,” said Enriquez. “Today, I’m just grateful.”